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Man convicted of murder denied new trial

January 09, 2001

Man convicted of murder denied new trial



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


Convicted murderer Robert Lester Pardue II has been denied a new trial for the 1989 slaying of Tracy Lynn Viar.

But Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone granted Pardue's belated motion to file for a modification hearing on his life sentence even though he didn't request one at the time of his trial in 1990.

Boone ruled that request must be made within 90 days of his Jan. 5 ruling to the original sentencing judge, Frederick Wright.

Pardue, 32, is serving his sentence at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

He appeared before Boone on Dec. 11 with his arguments for a new trial and for the belated modification hearing. The judge took the testimony under advisement and issued his ruling which was made public Monday.

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At that December hearing, Pardue's attorney, Fred Bennett, called several character witnesses who testified that they knew Pardue to be a nonviolent person.

Those witnesses, who included Pardue's mother and sister, also testified they were never contacted at the time of trial to offer character testimony.

"My trial attorney never asked me for any character witnesses," Pardue said in December.

His attorney at the 1990 trial was David Pembroke, who testified in December that he didn't call character witnesses about Pardue's nonviolent nature because he knew of a violent incident and believed it could have been used to the prosecution's advantage at trial.

On Dec. 26, 1989, a man contacted Hagerstown City Police to report there was a car in a parking lot in the first block of South Potomac Street with a dead woman in the trunk.

Police went to the scene and found Viar in the trunk of her own car. She had been reported missing six days earlier by her mother.

An autopsy revealed she had been strangled to death.

Pardue was arrested the day after the body was found.

The police investigation revealed that Viar and Pardue knew each other through mutual friends. The murder scene was found to be a popular parking area on Trovinger Mill Road.

Pardue testified at his trial that he once helped Viar move and that they had smoked marijuana together once.

He also denied killing her, claiming in his testimony that he found her body when he broke into her car to steal her stereo, court records said.

The prosecution produced an inmate from the Washington County Detention Center who testified Pardue told him he killed Viar by strangling and beating her during a quarrel after they had sex in Viar's car.

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